Center for Latter-day Saint Arts

On This Day...

A DAILY FACTOID OF OUR ART HISTORY

Apr. 10

The Putlizer Prize for History was awarded to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich on this day (1991) for her book, A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary 1785-1812. Ulrich also won the Bancroft prize and the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 1992

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Glen Nelson
Apr. 8

Impressionist James Taylor Harward, born on this day (1860) was the first Utahn to exhibit art in the French Salon, with works accepted into the 1892 show. After his artistic education and exhibitions in Paris, he returned to his native Utah to teach and to paint, eventually becoming the head of the art department at the University of Utah, leaving a legacy of emphasized craftsmanship on the department.

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Glen Nelson
Apr. 7

On this day (1933) the film King Kong is released to the American Public, directed and produced by Merian C Cooper and starring Fay Wray as Ann Darrow. Both had extensive film careers, with Cooper traveling the world and documenting his adventures, and Wray making more than a dozen feature films with Paramount Pictures.

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Glen Nelson
Apr. 6

On this day (1892), the Angel Moroni of Cyrus Dallin is placed atop the Salt Lake Temple during its capstone ceremony (exactly one year before the temple's dedication). Dallin was born in Sprinville Utah (1861) and later converted to Unitarianism. Regarding his iconic sculpture, he said, "My angel Moroni brought me nearer to God than anything I ever did."

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Glen Nelson
Apr. 5

On this day in 1945, Spanish avant-garde composer Francisco "Paco" Estévez was born. He gained recognition for his work during the 1970s, and has received awards in Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands.

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Glen Nelson
Apr. 2

Film director Kieth Merrill won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature on this day (1974). His film, The Great American Cowboy, told the story of rodeo champions Larry Mahan and Phil Lyne. In 1997, Merrill was nominated for a second Oscar, for the short documentary film, Amazon, which he directed, co-produced, and co-wrote.

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Glen Nelson
Apr. 1

Blaine Yorgason's popular novel, Charlie's Monument (1976) was reissued by Shadow Mountain to a new generation on this date (2000). In the novel, physically deformed orphan Charlie overcomes prejudice and debility to find acceptance and romantic love.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 29

B. Cecil Gates' oratorio, The Restoration, premiered on this day (1916) at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. The libretto written by his mother, Susa Young Gates includes the tenor solo, "I Have Seen My Maker Face to Face."

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 27

Hagen Haltern, painter and educator, born near Hamberg, Germany, died on this day (2014). Haltern studied at the Art Institute of Cologne and the Academy of Fine Art in Düsseldorf before joining the art faculty at BYU. In 1989 Haltern wrote the book, The Spiritual Foundation and Anagogical Level of Meaning in the Celestial Style, which analyzed the principles that lead to unified art.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 26

The primary work of Leon Dallin (born on this day, 1918) was called Techniques of Twentieth Century Composition: A Guide to the Materials of Modern Music. The text serves to provide information of the techniques and materials of twentieth-century music for performers, teachers, and composers trying to bridge the gap between traditional academics and contemporary practice.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 25

On this day (1890) John Hafen wrote a letter to President Cannon of the First Presidency asking the question "who is there amongst all our people capable to do . . .justice to artwork" for the soon to be completed SL Temple. The result of that letter was the Art Mission to Paris. The following June 23, Hafen, Lorus Pratt, and John B. Fairbanks who were set apart as art missionaries, left Utah for the Julian Academy in Paris. (See Harvesting the Light: The Paris Art Mission and Beginnings of Utah Impressionism, by Linda Jones Gibbs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1987)

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 24

From the creators of South Park, The Book of Mormon musical opened on Broadway on this day (2011). It is about two young missionaries who travel to Uganda to preach to a remote village. While the musical pokes fun at Mormon practices and beliefs, it ultimately praises its positivity and dedication to service. Initially opening in 2011, The Book of Mormon has grossed over $500 million, making it one of the most successful musicals of all time.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 23

Joel H. Johnson, writer of High on the Mountain Top and 360 other hymns, published as Hymns of Praise for the Young Selected from the Songs of Joel, (Deseret News, 1882), was born on this day (1802). His collection of hymns, Hymns of Praise, begins with these words: O, Father, give me pow’r to write, When unto thee I look, A thousand songs I would indite, And pen them in a book. Then I, a thousand tongues would need, To sing with one accord, Those sacred songs, with love indeed, In praise to Christ, the Lord. I would not then be satisfied, I’d want ten thousand more, To spread his glory, far and wide, His praise from shore to shore. When here on earth my praise is shown, I then would soar above, In all the worlds to us unknown Would sing a Savior’s love. And when his love I had proclaimed, In all that now have place, Would sing to all that will be framed, Through all the rounds of space.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 22

John Hafen, born on this day (1856), was a landscape artist who was part of the group of painters who studied in Paris in preparation for mural painting at the Salt Lake Temple. He convinced Church leadership to sponsor these art studies, and was awarded a two-year scholarship along with John Fairbanks, Lorus Pratt and Edwin Evans to study in France, where they became known as the "French Art Missionaries."

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 21

The New York revival of George M. Cohan's musical Little Johnny Jones opened and closed on this day (1982), making it one of the biggest flops in Broadway history. (The production also played for 29 preview performances.) Donny Osmond starred in the title role.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 17

Painter Lee Udall Bennion was born today (1956) in Merced, California. Bennion has a distinctive style of painting portraits of people that seem to harmonize with the emotional atmosphere around them. She currently resides in Utah where she continues to paint and serve on the board of directors for the Utah Arts Council.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 16

The Covered Wagon, the last film performance by James Cruze, was released on this day (1923). A prolific silent film actor and director, Cruze made one hundred films during the silent film era, starting as early as 1910. He was raised in the Church although he did not participate in it as an adult.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 15

Welsh composer Cyril Jenkins died on this day (1978). A titan in band music of the early 20th century, Jenkins' works Life Divine (1914), Coriolanus (1915), and Dawn (1922) remain staples in the repertoire. He joined the Church in 1960 and began a number of LDS-themed works.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 10

The LDS Cinema movement was launched on this day (2000) with the debut of Richard Dutcher's film about missionaries in Los Angeles, God's Army. At the time and for years after, members flocked to the movies to see stories populated with LDS characters. None was as successful (commercially nor critically) as this film, however, that was produced, written, directed, and performed by Dutcher.

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Glen Nelson
Mar. 9

In the Chicago musical, The Prince of To-Night, Harold Orlob's song, "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" premiered on this date (1909). Orlob, from Logan, Utah, became a composer of multiple Broadway shows, although in popularity, nothing matched this 1909 song that was recorded again and again for decades.

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Glen Nelson